VLADIMIR Putin may have already had the bungling Russian novichok assassins executed to distance the Kremlin from the Salisbury attack.
Political analyst Andrei Piontkovsky said suspects Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov may have been bumped off so they could never reveal what happened.
“If ‘Petrov’ and ‘Boshirov’ don’t appear in the coming days it means they are already dead,” he said.
The pair are accused of jetting to Britain in March to spray novichok on the front door handle of double agent Sergei Skripal’s Salisbury home from a fake pump action Nina Ricci perfume bottle.
Sergei, 67, his daughter Yulia, 33, and Det Sgt Nick Bailey, 38 recovered after being exposed to the deadly nerve agent which experts said was strong enough to have killed 4,000.
Dawn Sturgess, 44, died two months later when she unwittingly sprayed novichok on her wrists after boyfriend Charlie Rowley, 45, found the discarded perfume bottle in a charity bin and gave it to her as a present.
Brit police have obtained European arrest warrants for the Russian pair who are thought to have used aliases.
Mr Piontkovsky – a leading Putin critic – said the duo’s case was similar to that of the alleged killers of Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko who was assassinated using polonium in London in 2006.
The suspects in that crime – Dmitri Kovtun and Andrei Lugovoi – went public to deny the claims after being accused by Britain.
Mr Piontkovsky said they had “rescued themselves” by “running” to a radio station.
Lugovoi had since reportedly been made an MP.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Petrov and Boshirov were not under investigation because Britain had not asked for legal assistance in the case.
He said any suggestion Russia’s leaders were involved was “unacceptable”.